Sunday, November 23, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: Into the Storm

2014, Steven Quale (Final Destination 5) -- download

Back in the 90s I read a Bruce Sterling novel called Heavy Weather, sort of a cyberpunk stormchaser eco-story. I loved it. It left with me a fondness for tornado stories, which meant I saw Twister not long after the book. I was sorely disappointed, not because of all the inter-personal stuff that interfered with all the proper storm chasing, but because there just was not enough proper destruction. For its time, it was quite impressive, but the novel (p.s. they are not related, just both released around a time when tornado alley was getting nasty, by pop culture standards) was about the onset of an F6, something that has yet to be seen in reality. Later, my fascination with tornadoes became tempered by the reality of them, the late spring storms in the US constantly wiping out towns being too too real. And also, because anything else tornado related came out of the SyFy Channel / Asylum collection of terrible terrible movies.

Not that this movie is much better.

Seriously, it feels exactly like one of these Asylum movies sans sharks and with more of a budget. OK, that is being a little too harsh, as it actually has more of the feel of a made-for-TV movie of the normal ilk, not bad for bad sake. The characters are hollow, the interactions wooden and there are fabricated sub-plots that exist solely to put characters in harms way. And the only unique element, that it is entirely *yawn* found-footage, was left entirely out of any promotional material, which says how much the studio had faith in the gimmick being used. In this case it worked because it gave us a reason to see beyond the eye of the storm and into the heart of the destruction.

Like any movie about tornadoes, it has to be about storm chasers. Mixtures of thrill chasers and meteorologists, they pack scientific equipment and cameras into a couple of trucks and chase around the storm fronts, hoping they will turn into killer tornadoes. Partially they are there for the data, partially there for the footage that can be sold. And then there are the hillbillies on ATVs. And then there are highschool kids in the path of the "biggest tornado in history". You won't recognize any of the actors besides Laurie from The Walking Dead (Sarah Wayne Callies) and maybe chief stormchaser Pete (Matt Walsh), who has played that guy in a handful of movies and TV.  And no you won't recognize Thorin Oakenshield as the high school vice-principle. The CGI tornadoes are the real stars, damn impressive and shot waaaaay back and occasionally inside, when cameras get sucked up. They step up the destruction, not only tossing cows around (i think it was plastic) but including semi-trucks and an entire airport. In the end, the storm chasers get their footage but at great cost, with the resignation of hoping it will be worth something in future predictions.